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Union-backed group pushing CIT hike is no more

January 11, 2016

Article courtesy of MIRS News Service

The union-supported group that pushed to raise the corporate income tax (CIT) from 6 to 11 percent has disbanded, and is no longer pursuing its legislative initiative drive.

Citizens for Fair Taxes, as the group was called, had said its proposal to hike the CIT was all about raising more money for Michigan’s roads. Following the passage of transportation-funding legislation in November, the group concluded its work was finished.

“Once they passed the road package . . . we didn’t feel that it made sense to continue,” said Lisa CANADA, spokesperson for the ballot committee and also with the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, one of the initial supporting unions behind the campaign.

The ballot committee filed its dissolution papers on Dec. 10, but decided not to make a public fuss about it, Canada said. MIRS reached out to the campaign Wednesday to get a status update, considering the group hadn’t issued a press release since at least October.

The money the group raised — at least $1.3 million in total — was returned to its respective owners, Canada said.

Canada said the group had been collecting signatures up to and through the passage of the road-funding package. She didn’t say how many signatures were gathered, but did say they were “doing really well.”

After the Legislature delivered a road package to Gov. Rick SNYDER, Canada said moving forward with the CIT hike campaign appeared to have a smaller chance of success.

“It would be a difficult sell to continue with our exact language,” she said.

Still, Canada made it clear the group wasn’t satisfied with the finished roads product.

“I don’t want to say I’m happy with it. I don’t think it’s a good roads package,” she said.

At the same time, Canada said she believes the proposal to raise the CIT — a concept business groups and Snyder were vehemently opposed to — was enough to stoke action on roads.

“Once we started collecting signatures for this ballot initiative, clearly a fire was lit under the folks in Lansing and they moved forward with some kind of road funding for the first time in a very long time, and I feel like we can certainly take . . . credit for that,” she said.

When Citizens For Fair Taxes formed, it also included the Michigan Laborers’ District Council and the Operating Engineers.

But not every union was on board with the drive.

Business groups immediately fired back against the campaign, and Snyder also expressed opposition, considering the CIT was among his first reforms implemented when he took office in 2011.

Calls to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business Michigan — some of the most outspoken opponents of the proposal — went unreturned Wednesday.

But Snyder spokesperson Anna HEATON said Wednesday in response, “In the last five years, by working together we have built a business environment that spurred creation of more than 420,000 new jobs here in Michigan. Now we can keep the focus on moving forward and adding even more and better jobs.”

Citizens For Fair Taxes had said their proposal was supposed to recoup half of the tax cuts business received in the 2011 tax reforms — estimated at $900 million — and put toward roads.

The group was well stocked with union funds, and at one point it released internal polling showing public support for a CIT hike (See “Internal Poll: 69% Support Raising CIT For Roads,” 7/28/15).

During the legislative back-and-forth on road funding, a source within the Citizens for Fair Taxes campaign said it would continue forward regardless of what the House would do on roads at that point (See “Ballot Campaigns: House’s Road Deal Wasn’t Going To Stop Us,” 8/21/15).

There had also been a theory floated by some that had the petition garnered enough signatures and was sent to the Legislature, lawmakers could approve it, then immediately change it to wipe out the tax hike (See “Would Legislature Pass CIT Hike Just To Undo It?” 7/30/15). 

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